The Zeitwerk is arguably one of the most beautiful modern digital jumping hour wristwatches –period. This year Lange introduced a new complication to the Zeitwerk: a precise jumping date but as you’ll probably know by now, this is no ordinary date display. As you would’ve likely heard me mention in the past; I’ve always been intrigued by the Zeitwerk and it was good to see these being assembled in person when we visited the Manufacture in Glashütte. It was rather interesting to learn that the Zeitwerk is the only piece made by Lange that is assembled from start to finish by the same person. 2019 marks the tenth year since the launch of the Zeitwerk and to somewhat celebrate this feat, Lange have endowed it with a new manufacture calibre featuring an extra function.
When Lange introduced the Zeitwerk in 2009, it was one of the first mechanical wristwatches to feature a constant-force escapement and precisely jumping digital displays that indicate the hour and minute with jumping numerals have been commended with multiple awards. Within a fraction of a second, the unique mechanism advances the numeral discs, even simultaneously incrementing all three discs at the top of the hour.
A decade later and Lange have not only introduced a new function to the already complicated Zeitwerk, but they’ve also completely re-engineered the entire movement. The Zeitwerk Date comes in a 44.2-millimetre white-gold case with a grey dial. The additional complication: the ring-shaped date display, which fits perfectly within the dial flange of the Zeitwerk design, encircling the entire dial. This glass ring date of the Zeitwerk Date shows the current date in red.
The circumferential date ring consists of glass with printed numerals from 1 to 31. The current date is displayed in red. To achieve this effect, a small colour segment beneath the date ring performs one step exactly at midnight. So, in the course of a month, it moves around the dial by one full revolution. With this arrangement, the date is always clearly legible at all times and also recognisable intuitively. The date display can be adjusted with the corrector at 8 o’clock.
While the addition of a date function from the outside doesn’t appear that difficult to incorporate, it was quite the challenge for Lange. The large numeral discs and the prominent dial with the time bridge make it impossible to integrate a conventional date, let alone an outsize date – hence the reason why they needed a totally new design approach.
The Zeitwerk Date includes an additional button at 4 o’clock, which is used to separately advance the hour indication, thus solving a problem that originated in the date display in the first place. Since it calls for a time setting that is accurate to 24 hours, it would take too long to adjust the time via the crown – minute by minute. The integration of the hour button was associated with considerable design modifications. To enable the correction independently of the switching cycles of the movement, a clutch uncouples the hour ring from the jumping numerals mechanism each time the button is pressed.
In typical fashion, the new in-house calibre L034.8 includes the lavish finissage of the 516-part movement that we’ve come to expect from Lange. All of this goodness can be viewed through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
One of the main concerns that is always levelled at Lange is that some of their timepieces can perhaps look a bit unemotional and sterile – though this is down to personal preference in my humble opinion. I think the Zeitwerk is one of the more fun pieces Lange produces and the inclusion of a date complication is a welcomed addition. The way it has been executed is rather smart and has been done in a way one perhaps wouldn’t have thought. The balance of the Zeitwerk Date is rather wonderful, with a layout which boarders on quite playful. However, if there is any criticism, the only one I can think of would be the watches size but yet again this is down to personal preference.
The Zeitwerk Date will retail for €89,000 (approx. £76,500). For more details, visit the Lange website.